Definition of penury in English:



  • Extreme poverty; destitution.

    ‘he died in a state of virtual penury’
    • ‘Living a life in penury, they have sold everything.’
    • ‘But despite his outstanding gifts he's soon in penury again because the crocodile he has adopted is scaring off potential clients.’
    • ‘Perhaps it was unavoidable, yet it was a road that led past ruin, default and penury, through the plunder of Russia and the impoverishment of Russians.’
    • ‘Having been reduced to penury, struggling to survive, they no longer serve as an effective political opposition.’
    • ‘If we all looked, acted, thought and behaved as badly as spammers do, our world would be reduced to desperate penury.’
    • ‘Falling in love with a tea vendor could suit the infatuated young mind but when it comes to marriage she is able to visualise the agony of penury and gets out of the affair.’
    • ‘After slaving to bring up children and nursemaid a man while simultaneously working to boost the family's income, they are the ones left to live out a lonely and unglamorous old age in penury.’
    • ‘It follows that you don't have to reduce yourself to utter penury.’
    • ‘Women who believe they are in for a reasonable standard of living during widowhood, are to be step-by-step, reduced to penury.’
    • ‘In a globalized economy, it imposes penury on trading partners, especially the poorest countries.’
    • ‘I will reduce myself to penury to save you from the evils of gambling, even if it means winning millions of pounds.’
    • ‘It is a miracle that her flimsy frame has been able to survive the extremes of weather, utter penury and the cruel sneers of her snobbish compatriots during her hellish ordeal.’
    • ‘Now, as then, a government is reducing its citizens to penury as they are deprived of their income and homes.’
    • ‘He was reduced to living in penury in miserable exile in France; and on his return to York he was imprisoned for three months.’
    • ‘Even in the middle of penury, dreams remain colourful.’
    • ‘Bastille Day in France commemorates the French Revolution and reminds us of one of the most unpleasant and blood-soaked regimes ever to have reduced a country to penury.’
    • ‘He was not a poverty-stricken peasant's son looking to escape penury.’
    • ‘Price rises due to his stealth taxes have reduced thousands like me to utter penury.’
    • ‘It was her penury and negligence that let the house deteriorate.’
    • ‘In overcoming that penury, modern technology as well as economic interrelations have been influential.’
    dire poverty, extreme poverty, pennilessness, impecuniousness, impoverishment, indigence, need, neediness, want, destitution, privation, deprivation, hardship, beggary, bankruptcy, insolvency, ruin, reduced circumstances, straitened circumstances
    pauperism, pauperdom, mendicity
    View synonyms


Late Middle English: from Latin penuria need, scarcity; perhaps related to paene almost.